People who no longer believe in the one God now believe in The One.
For them romance has replaced religion.
Having lost God, they are searching for The One.
Or better, they are looking for true love, a love that will last for eternity.
The One is at once your soul-mate, life partner, best friend and perfect complement. When you find The One, you will have it all.
You love will conquer all obstacles, overcome all impediments… naturally. You will not need to make a life, organize your time, establish routines, even get along.
You will have found the one person that was meant for you. You can stop worrying about divorce.
Julie Burchill explains that this quest for The One is largely limited to the female sex. She is quite right. Precious few men are running around trying to find The One.
Of course, this contains its own irony. How many women today can say that their "number" is One?
For those who are unfamiliar with Burchill, she has more often aligned herself with the radical left than anything that leans right.
In her words:
But when did The One become such a be-all, end-all and know-all of female aspiration? I believe that (unlike body-con dresses and seeing knuckle-dragging footballers as some sort of sexual El Dorado) this is one contemporary tic which can’t be blamed on reality TV totty, though they may pursue this particular nugget of fool’s gold most noisily and publicly. No, the rotten roots of the current craze for seeing romantic relationships as a cross between a padded cell and a three-legged race began a long time ago.
Remarkably, Burchill says that women are seeking The One because they have lost faith in God:
Increasingly these days, surveying the soft parade of modern life, I think of the old G.K. Chesterton chestnut: ‘When men choose not to believe in God, they do not thereafter believe in nothing, they then become capable of believing in anything.’ This seems particularly true of romantic love — we expect it to fill the hollow places (and not just the obvious ones) where previously we might have welcomed a deity.…
But I do think that the removal of the idea of the Almighty from society in general — and romantic relationships in particular — has left people more likely to seek superhuman solace from mere mortals — The One! — and be bitterly disappointed when they inevitably find them to be less than perfect.
How did we get to this point? Burchill suggests that when we went out to deconstruct marriage, we also deconsecrated it.
She is too kind to mention which groups worked hardest to deconstruct the venerable institution of marriage, and we will respect her modesty.
Those who did would do well to recall the old adage: You break it, you own it.
Those who have spent the past four decades breaking down courtship and marriage are responsible for the fallout… regardless of whether they wanted it or intended it.
But, what does it mean to deconsecrate marriage?
If I may, it suggests that we were wrong to see marriage as a social construct or a piece of paper. Marriage is not an arbitrary institution imposed on human beings who might, under different circumstances, have been inclined to mate differently.
Since the basic structure of marriage is universal, it is not unreasonable to say that its roots lie in nature. It enacts truths that go beyond the cultural, the local and the personal.
If marriage is a sacred institution, it entails responsibilities that go beyond personal pleasure. It does not ebb and flow depending on how anyone feels or on how much anyone loves.
Remove the religious aspect and marriage can be whatever you want it to be. But this, Burchill explains, makes marriage more claustrophobic. If all you have is love, if marriage is merely an expression of love, then any change of feeling threatens the marriage.
It might have seemed all fun, fine and dandy deconsecrating and deconstructing marriage, getting spliced on theme park rides and underwater, but removing the religious (I hate the word ‘spiritual’; it denotes a sad-sack who doesn’t inhale and drinks decaf) element from marriage has made it far more claustrophobic than it was before, rendering it something of a psychotic seesaw.
Nothing about the institution of marriage requires that you have found The One. In fact, marriage is probably more reasonable when you are aware of the fact that your spouse is not the meaning of life and cannot redeem all pain and suffering.
Setting expectations too high can easily cause divorce.
In Burchill’s words:
Peter Ustinov brilliantly said of friends that they are ‘not necessarily the people you like best, they are merely the people who get there first’. The same is true of lovers; it’s more like ‘The Queue’ than the ‘The One’. Do not seek the meaning of life in the dear, fallible creature lying next to you; instead, look upwards.